14-year-old Aditya Choudhury and 16-year-old Ananya Mukerji secured first and second position in the senior category, making Indians around the world exceptionally proud.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition, the oldest international essay-writing contest, is conducted annually by the Royal Commonwealth Society to inspire teenage authors. It was first held in 1883 and since then has continued to provide aspiring writers with an opportunity to shine while exploring contemporary themes.
The theme for the year 2020, launched twelve months ago by The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Rosemary Shand, was ‘Climate Action and the Commonwealth’. This year, Indian-origin students Aditya Choudhury and Ananya Mukerji secured first and second position, respectively, in the senior category, making Indians around the world exceptionally proud. Choudhury is a fourteen-year-old from Singapore and Mukerji a sixteen-year-old from India.
Choudhury wrote a piece titled ‘Voices from the Blue World’, which imagines a grouper fish delivering the keynote speech at an underwater conference on the impact that climate change has had on the oceanic community. “Man-made actions have had devastating consequences on our blue world. The shark community has proposed violent retaliation and they are being supported by the union of lionfish, sea snakes, stingrays, flower urchins, the great winged octopus, saltwater crocodiles, and the boxed jellyfish communities,” was an extract read from the winning essay by Stephen Frey at the award ceremony.
Mukerji wrote ‘The Waters Rise’, which imagines an impassioned call to recognise the impact of climate change on small island-states and the need to take action. “The sea has been rising for years, the village elders all said so. My father often said that the Earth was a friend to our people, treat it well. I remember him murmuring as he dozed in the dry summer evenings. I listened to him, but others did not. Now my home is all but gone, every year brings in a new season of storms and every year even less remains,” read Kareen Kapoor from Mukerji’s essay.
The society organised a virtual facilitation for this year’s winners on account of the pandemic. The ceremony included notable literary figures, actors, and humanitarians from across the Commonwealth. Ambassadors of the Royal Commonwealth Society, David Walliams and Alexandra Burke, were joined by British actor and writer, Stephen Fry, and Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor, to read extracts from the award-winning pieces during the ceremony.
Since the launch, the competition received 12,888 entries from young people across the Commonwealth. It inspired young children and teenagers to pen down their ideas, dreams, hopes, and fears on paper in a kaleidoscope of different ways – in essays, stories, and poems.
“This year is one of the most successful competitions on record. I am incredibly proud of all of you for overcoming the year’s challenges with your outstanding creativity on this vitally important subject. Thank you for taking part, I am once again astounded by your brilliance,” said The Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Rosemary Shand, while addressing the participants at the virtual ceremony.
The competition calls to hear the voices of the youth of the world, regardless of age, race, region or education. All citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged eighteen and under are encouraged to participate in the annual essay-writing competition.
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